CyberFair Project ID: 2582

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: ARCH - American Russian Communications Headquarters
Category: 5. Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Future Problem Solving Program
    Appleton, Wisconsin, USA

five students, ages 14,14,16,16,17 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 21, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2003

Classes and Teachers: Marlyce Reed, coach, Andy, Alex, Luke, Lisa, Meredith

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Our Doors to Diplomacy project is called ARCH, which stands for American Russian Communications Headquarters. It was developed by five Future Problem Solving students from Appleton North High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. Team members are Andy and Alex, age 14; Luke and Lisa, age 16; and Meredith, age 17. Andy and Alex did the majority of the technical work. Lisa and Meredith conducted interviews, gathered photos, video footage, newspaper articles and artwork. Luke conducted extensive, detailed research on chemical weapons. Our coach, Marlyce Reed, assisted us by suggesting contacts and resources, proofreading text, and keeping us on task. Since we are Future Problem Solving students we routinely study and research topics of global significance as part of our participation in the program. We hold weekly seminar discussion groups about whatever topic we are researching at the time. These topics cover a broad range of global issues such as Environmental Law, Genetic Engineering, Global Interdependence, Water, and Virtual Corporations. We were immediately drawn to the Doors to Diplomacy categories as they closely align with the categories we use in our problem solving process. Because of this, it was initially difficult for us to select a category on which to focus our web site. As it turned out, the one we selected, Safety and Security, led our team into an experience much larger than we could ever have imagined at the outset. We will be working together with Russian students from Shchuchye, Russia, to address safety and security problems associated with the chemical weapons deposit near their village. Our Doors to Diplomacy ARCH web site will serve as the critical educational and communication component of this joint endeavor allowing students from two diverse cultures to share research, ideas, and information and to hold problem solving discussions via our virtual discussion room.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our Doors to Diplomacy web project is called ARCH, which stands for American Russian Communications Headquarters. This web project served as a catalyst to empower us to create an international diplomatic problem-solving team, which we have named Partners in Global Solutions. One Appleton North Future Problem Solving team will travel to Shchuchye, Russia in July of this year to mentor Russian students in Future Problem Solving. While in Shchuchye these students will also observe firsthand the problems and issues the people of this region face as a result of the chemical weapons facility nearby. They will also work at camps run by the Green Cross, a program founded by Mikhail Gorbachev. Once the mentoring process is accomplished, the Russian and American students will sit down together as the world’s first FPS International Community Problem Solving Team to define a real life security and safety problem in Shchuchye and to outline the strategies they will use to solve it. This team will work together over the following year via our ARCH web site to carry out their solution. In the spring of 2004 the Russian students will travel to the United States to present, along side their American teammates, their Partners in Global Solutions Community Problem Solving project at the Future Problem Solving International Conference. Our Doors to Diplomacy ARCH web site will serve several critical roles in this process. Its virtual discussion room will allow Russian and American students to discuss problem-solving strategies, and to share ideas and research with each other as they strive to solve a chemical weapons related problem in Shchuchye. It will also raise awareness about current efforts by young leaders to promote peace, diplomacy, and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:4-6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

All of the computers used in this project are home built and run Windows XP.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

This project has provided us with the opportunity to address and resolve a number of challenges. We have gained confidence and valuable experience from these challenges which we hope will make us better ambassadors and leaders in the future.

Once we had the parameters of our project defined, it was necessary to communicate its details and purpose to numerous audiences. Our project depended upon the collaboration and cooperation of several key groups including the Appleton Area School District Board of Education, the Fox Cities/Kurgan Sister Cities Organization, Future Problem Solving International, the Green Cross (founded by Mikhail Gorbachev), the teachers and students in Shchuchye, Russia, and the Cooperative Threat Reduction Offices in Moscow. Logistically, it has been very challenging to coordinate efforts and information with all of these groups. We have depended very heavily on e-mail to address this challenge and generally copy to one contact person in each group to keep everyone abreast of details and developments.

It has also been a learning experience for us to work with a “system” very different from our own. Americans are used to working within a fast and efficient high tech communication network. We are used to things like Overnight Priority Mail, Instant Messenger, and almost universal computer access. Our teammates and friends in Shchuchye must travel to the Green Cross office in the village where there is a computer to send and receive their e-mail messages. Their postal system is so unreliable that any packages, gifts, training material, etc. sent between us has to be hand delivered by people traveling between our two communities to assure delivery. Initially, this was frustrating for us. We have now learned to acknowledge and appreciate the slower pace of their lives and have adjusted ours to accommodate that.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our Doors to Diplomacy Project went beyond the creation of a web site by empowering students to take an active role in combating and controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their impact on society through joint international diplomatic problem solving efforts with students in Shchuchye, Russia, home to 6,000 tons of Soviet era chemical weapons. It has made possible a new community and by that we mean a community of young leaders dedicated to working together to increase the safety and security of the world.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Time, Continuity and Change As Americans we are partially responsible due to the Cold War for the presence of chemical weapons in Shchuchye, Russia. The world has drastically changed resulting in money strapped Russian citizens, reduced security at chemical weapons sites, and the rise of terrorist activities around the world. Individuals, Groups, and Institutions During the Soviet era, chemical weapons proliferation was controlled by a strong government institution. Due to change brought about by Gorbachev, Yeltsin and others, control over these weapons has diminished. New institutions created through international efforts are evolving to help fill this void and prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons to terrorist organizations. Science, Technology and Society Scientific and technological advances do not exist in a vacuum. They have long lasting economic, environmental, social, and ethical ramifications. When developing weapons of mass destruction, societies must consider the fact that they will be in existence until they are either a) used or b) destroyed, both of which carry a heavy price for society. Global Connectedness The safety, security, and well-being of the citizens of Shchuchye, Russia directly affect the safety, security, and well-being of American citizens. By raising the standard of living, promoting improved healthcare, increased jobs, a safe and healthy environment and economic stability, we decrease the probability that rogue nations and terrorist groups will gain access to the chemical weapons stored there. Civic Ideas and Practices We are concurrently citizens of both our nation and the world and while our human rights are protected in this country under the Constitution, we have a responsibility for the well being of others around the globe. Through our ARCH web site and Partners in Global Solutions project, we hope to make a positive difference.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

In the creation of our project we used many information tools and technologies. Foremost were the computers belonging to the students. All of these computers are home-built, and run Windows XP. A scanner was used to digitize the majority of pictures and graphics in the web site. In order to construct the web site, prepare the content, manipulate graphics, and put the web site online, several computer programs were used. Most useful were Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash used in the creation of the web site itself, and the preparation of its graphics. In addition to these, Microsoft Word, Windows Sound Recorder, and Windows Media Player were used for modification of multimedia content as well as manipulation of textual content. In the process of gathering content, we used numerous tools and technologies. Much of our research on chemical weapons came from books, newspapers, and web sites. We were fortunate to find fascinating firsthand account material about Shchuchye, which we gathered through videotaped oral interviews, e-mail interviews, taped interviews from radio stations, TV documentaries, Internet web sites, newspaper articles, and personal accounts. Our most valuable tools besides the actual computers and the various software used to physically create the site were those which allowed us to communicate with and gather primary information from individuals. Our personal interviews, whether conducted on-line, by telephone, through the radio, or before a live video camera, really brought the story and meaning of our project to life for us. Listening to people's first hand accounts of the conditions in Shchuchye as a result of the chemical weapons stored there and their passionate commitment to improving those conditions brought real meaning to our project.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

We have promoted our project in various and abundant ways, both within our community and beyond. We have met with and spoken in person to numerous community groups and organizations including the Sister Cities Exchange committee, the Appleton Area School District Board of Education, twelve different Lions Clubs, the Kiwanis Club, and several area church groups. We have presented to the United Way Youth Board, and met in small committees with various community leaders including several from Theda Care Medical Center. We have written to numerous area major businesses, informing them of our project. We have had newspaper coverage in the Post Crescent, our regional newspaper, and have been interviewed on WHBY radio station. The Green Cross Headquarters in Switzerland and the Cooperative Threat Reduction Headquarters in Moscow are both involved with and very much aware of our project. People may access our site directly or through the Fox Cities/Kurgan Sister Cities site where we have a link. We have two very exciting upcoming opportunities at which to share our Doors to Diplomacy ARCH web site project. Mikhail Gorbachev is coming to our city as the keynote speaker at the International Conference for the Nonproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction on October 1-3. We are serving on the educational steering committee for this major event and plan to have our web site project as a component of the conference. We also plan to share our project with Future Problem Solving students from around the world as part of our Partners in Global Solutions presentation, which we will make with our Russian teammates at the International Future Problem Solving Conference.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

When we began our Doors to Diplomacy project, we could never have imagined where it has led us. What began as an educational web site project by a handful of students has evolved into a community wide - and international - mission. It was our Doors to Diplomacy web site project, which inspired us to create our Partners in Global Solutions FPS team with Russian students and the response from the community to this total project has been overwhelming. As we stated above, many, many groups have asked us to speak to them about this project and the media, both newspaper and radio, have covered it with great enthusiasm. This has served to raise awareness within our community of the chemical weapons situation in Shchuchye, Russia as well as letting people know that there are students within their community who are taking action to do something about it.

When I see 14-17 year olds sitting down with our top community leaders to discuss international diplomacy and weapons of mass destruction that is a very exciting thing. These leaders are invariably impressed that people this age are so knowledgeable and concerned about issues of safety and security. One community leader commented to me, "When I was 16, all I cared about was basketball and girls."

Our Doors to Diplomacy project has sparked an amazing surge of interest and support within our community. People as us, "what can I do," or "how can I help?" It has played a key role in nurturing a strong and meaningful relationship with our new friends in Shchuchye, Russia. It has empowered not only a handful of students, but many, many people to become involved in issues surrounding the safety and security of the world.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

We have been very fortunate to have many people willing and eager to support our project. The number of people who have in some way contributed are too many to possibly list and so to everyone who has helped us we extend a heartfelt thank you. There are a few individuals, however, that we would like to single out for their assistance. First of all, thank you to our dear friends, Masha Byvakina and Olga Lagoyda who were brave enough to accept the title of Russia's First Future Problem Solving Coaches. Thank you to Deb Nugent, Executive Director of the Sister Cities organization and Dr. Montgomery (Monk) Elmer, for sharing their personal experiences and insights with us. Sue Toussaint and Linda Dawson, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, kept our project moving forward with their advice, expertise, and answers to our never ending questions. Thank you to Irina Andrevna, Mayor of Shchuchye, for hand delivering the Future Problem Solving coaches training material to Masha and Olga. We can now begin to converse with our Russian teammates in their native language thanks to our wonderful Russian teacher, Elizabeth Krizenesky. (Thank you also, Betsy, for the music, the chocolate, and the caviar.) Thanks to Galina Vepreva, Director of the Green Cross office in Shchuchye, for intercepting and delivering our endless emails and to Christina Bigle of the Green Cross in Switzerland for her permission to use the wonderful pictures from her documentary film. Thank you to Adolph Ernst and Aida Bulkin from the Cooperative Threat Reduction Office in Moscow for their enthusiastic logistical support and to Mike Demerath and Maureen Ware for assisting us with contacts within the community. We have saved our biggest thanks for last. Thank you to Mark Ropella who has agreed to share the rest of this adventure with us.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

We were surprised at the impact this project ended up having on our lives. We are engaged now in our own personal Door to Diplomacy with young student leaders in Russia. We hope our web site will raise awareness about our efforts toward peace and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We also hope it can inspire other young people to get involved to work toward a safe and secure future for our world.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2582)

Close this Window